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Two East Asian countries are looking to modify some of their vessels so they can carry F-35B stealth fighters.
Due to the smaller size of each country’s navy, the modernization plans will be limited.
China will soon possess a much larger carrier fleet, including vessels with catapult-launch technology similar to U.S. vessels.
With the seas heating up around them, Tokyo and Seoul are considering their next moves. Accelerating geopolitical trends, from the Chinese navy's continued development to North Korea's nuclear program, are driving Japan and South Korea, two key naval powers in the Western Pacific, to evaluate plans for the development of aircraft carriers. However, both appear to be pursuing a more restricted strategy because of their limited military budgets and — in Japan’s case — the constraints imposed by history. Nevertheless, their serious consideration of this naval expansion attests to the heated maritime competition in the region.
All that, however, appears to be changing. According to Japan's Kyodo News agency, the government is considering making its two Izumo vessels into full-fledged aircraft carriers capable of transporting and launching F-35B stealth fighters. While still in its infancy, the proposal stems from Japan's broader move to normalize its military. It is concerned about its perceived inability to launch pre-emptive attacks against North Korean missile bases and about China's rapidly growing naval capability, including its carrier fleet.
Not to be left out, South Korea is also reportedly considering acquiring a carrier fleet. Much like Japan, South Korea is mulling whether to alter its Dokdo-class helicopter carrier to host the F-35B, which will feature advanced software and stealth capabilities. Beyond Seoul's pressing concern over the threat posed by North Korea and the rising power of China's navy, South Korea also wishes to remain in step with developments in Japan, especially due to the long-standing maritime and territorial disputes between the two.
With two 1000# JDAMs and two internal AIM120s, full expendables, execute a 600 foot (450 UK STOVL) STO from LHA, LHD, and aircraft carriers (sea level, tropical day, 10 kts operational WOD) and with a combat radius of 450 nm (STOVL profile). Also must perform STOVL vertical landing with two 1000# JDAMs and two internal AIM120s, full expendables, and fuel to fly the STOVL Recovery profile.
Execute 549 ft. STO with 2 JDAM (internal), 2 AIM120 (internal), fuel to fly 450nm